UK government identifies offshore wind industry as a major engine of economic growth

January 15th, 2013 by RenewableUK

Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm, off the Suffolk coast (click image to expand - image courtesy of Harald Pettersen, Statoil)

RenewableUK, the trade and professional body representing the wind and marine energy sector, has welcomed the publication of the UK Government’s Call for Views for its Industrial Strategy, which identifies the offshore wind industry as a major engine of economic growth in Britain.

By 2021, more than 47,000 people will be working in the UK’s offshore wind energy sector, including the supply chain.

The Business Secretary Vince Cable set out his vision committing to a long term partnership between the UK Government and industry, with a focus on offshore wind.

The Energy Secretary Edward Davey has welcomed the proposals, highlighting their potential to enhance the building of much-needed low-carbon infrastructure.

The UK Government is now asking the industry how companies decide where to locate their businesses, as well as identifying the areas in which the UK-based offshore wind supply chain already excels.

It also calls for views on how more skilled workers can be attracted into the rapidly-expanding sector.

Maf Smith, RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive said “this ringing endorsement of the offshore wind industry’s potential to create tens of thousands of jobs is a timely reminder of the economic prize that’s within our grasp as we work closely with Government to capitalise on our global lead in this innovative field.”

“The clear prioritisation of the offshore wind sector by the Business Secretary Vince Cable and the Energy Secretary Edward Davey will help to secure billions of pounds worth of investment for UK plc,” he said.

“A number of global players in the industry have well-advanced plans to open factories at port locations around the UK, building the next generation of offshore turbines.”

“We need to seal the deal to ensure these plans are fully realised. This explicit commitment in the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy that it will focus on offshore wind will help us to achieve that,” he said.

RenewableUK has also responded to the report issued by the UK Public Accounts Committee on the transmission charges for offshore wind.

The report has led to a number of misleading media reports regarding the Offshore Transmission Owner (OFTO) framework, which regulates the transmission of electricity generated by offshore wind.

The framework was established to attract the right level of investment needed to ensure the successful growth of the offshore sector, and to encourage competition among companies, leading to lower bills for consumers.

The scheme has already achieved notable successes in all three of those key aims.

Ofgem stated in its Offshore Transmission Coordination Report that the OFTO framework has “delivered significant benefits through cost savings to consumers, attracting considerable investment into the sector.”

Maf Smith, RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive, said “the renewables industry is constantly examining ways to encourage greater competition and reduce costs.”

“The golden rule is that we should always strive to provide the best value for money for consumers. It’s regrettable that the Public Accounts Committee didn’t acknowledge the fact that the OFTO system has already achieved its primary aims of bringing in much-needed investment and creating competition for transmission licences.”

“Ofgem has stated that the system has already saved consumers £290 million,” Maf Smith said.

“We are also concerned that the UK Public Accounts Committee did not consult the industry fully when it compiled its short report.”

“Unfortunately the PAC did not allow itself sufficient time to hear the most up-to-date evidence. We would welcome an opportunity to speak to committee members at greater length at the earliest opportunity, in the interests of accuracy and balance,” he said.

“Given the level of misreporting of this complex subject, it’s also worth clarifying that offshore wind farm owners are not permitted to hold offshore transmission licenses – the two sectors are kept separate by law, to ensure competition and value for money for the consumer.”

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